That baptism for those wishing to follow in the footsteps of Christ is a scriptural admonition is not debated. What is debated among various Christian denominations is who should get baptized and for what purpose. Many denominations believe in infant baptism, which we believe is unscriptural.
In any event, a long standing tradition within the Watchtower movement is to ask a few questions to those desiring to get baptized as an outward symbol of their consecration to the Lord and His will.
In the days of Pastor Russell, two simple questions were asked:
Have you repented of sin with such restitution as you are able, and are you trusting in the merit of Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins and the basis of your justification?
Have you made a full consecration of yourself with all the powers that you possess–talent, money, time, influence–all to the Lord, to be used faithfully in His service, even unto death?
The candidate was then told “On the basis of these confessions, we acknowledge you as a member of the Household of Faith, and give to you as such the right hand of fellowship, not in the name of any sect or party or creed, but in the name of the Redeemer, our glorified Lord, and His faithful followers.”
After the death of Pastor Russell and prior to the year 1985, the questions asked to baptismal candidates did not change much, although they were slightly revised. An example of the questions asked are found in the February 1st 1945 Watchtower:
Have you recognized yourself as a sinner and needing salvation from Jehovah God? and have you acknowledged that this salvation proceeds from Him and through his Ransomer Christ Jesus?
On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for redemption, have you consecrated yourself unreservedly to do the will of God henceforth as that will is revealed to you through Christ Jesus and through God’s Word as His holy spirit makes it plain? (page 44 – Subheading “Questions”)
These same questions were asked of baptismal candidates in 1970 (See Watchtower 1970 pg. 309 par. 20.)
We believe that these questions are proper and in line with what both the prophet John the baptizer and Christ Jesus admonished their followers to do, “Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven draws near!” – Matthew 3:2; 4:7
However, as the years have gone by and the leadership behind the Watchtower have taken unto themselves certain privileges that rightfully belong to Christ Jesus, they have made drastic changes within the organization. Abusing their authority, and having ursurped the authority of Christ. By their actions they have asserted equal status with Jehovah God Himself. Yet, these changes came subtley and unnoticed by the rank and file members of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Some may ask for an example, and to that we ask, let’s take a look at the baptismal questions and how they have drastically changed since 1985. There is no need to reproduce the original questions as they are quoted above, we do well to look at the new questions asked of baptismal candidates since 1985.
On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? (Watchtower June 1, 1985 pg. 30 par. 3,4.)
You will notice that the original questions and there slight revisions placed emphasis on one being a sinner and in need of a redeemer, that redeemer being Christ Jesus as a means of salvation. A simple and plain stated fact. Scripturally sound.
However, the new questions, (post 1985), are drastically revised. While emphasis in recognizing ones sinfulness in need of repentance is stressed, the atoning blood of Jesus is not. Instead, the emphsis is in recognizing ones association with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. As they are the “spirit-directed organization” mentioned.
Therefore, The candidate is NOT baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, but in the name of the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society. As there is no emphasis in whom to confess ones sins in order to gain forgiveness, there is no emphasis on accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior, the ONLY name by which we gain salvation. Acts 4:12
While the candidate is led to believe that he is repenting of his sins and dedicating his life in the service of Jehovah, he is in fact doing the opposite, that is dedicating his life in the service of man, the Watchtower leadership. Yet the Watchtower states that “Baptism validates a solemn agreement made with God.” (Watchtower April 15, 1987, page 12)
So we ask, why the change? What prompted the Watchtower leadership to change the questions to their current status? We believe that the new questions are out of character and unscriptural to say the least. The Society states they were changed for simplification but for what purpose?
“Recently the two questions addressed to baptismal candidates were simplified so that candidates could answer with full comprehension of what is involved in coming into intimate relationship with God and his earthly organization.” (Watchtower April 15, 1987, page 12)
An “intimate relationship with God”? Where is that stated in the questions? There is nothing said of one’s intimate relationship with God. Yet, there is stated, one’s intimate relationship with the spirit-begotten organization.
We may ask then to what is baptism a dedication? Let’s look at the Watchtower to gain some insight:
“A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit. This shows, among other things, that Christianity is not a denominational affair, that sects have nothing to do with it. “Does the Christ exist divided? Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I am thankful I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.”—1 Cor. 1:13-15, NW”. (Watchtower July 1, 1955, page 411)
One would think the leadership would reread that issue of the Watchtower or perhaps reread the July 1, 1955 issue, (pg. 411 par. 15)
“We do not dedicate ourselves to a religion, nor to a man, nor to an organization. No, we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe, our Creator, Jehovah God himself. This makes dedication a very personal relationship between us and Jehovah.”
Yet, the questions state the opposite, instead of a personal relationship between “us and Jehovah” it is a personal relationship between “us and the spirit-directed organization” namely, the Watchtower Society.